The Need to Knead

The Need to Knead

by Ann Marie Hook, AMMM        U.S.A.             28.12.2022

You may have seen bread recipes that boast “No Knead.” There are many of these recipes on the internet and YouTube; and entire cookbooks are dedicated to this “fast and easy” method of making yeast dough. I must admit I like “fast and easy.” I can make enough bread dough for four loaves in five minutes. Refrigerated, the dough will last two weeks and is ready to be transformed into warm bread whenever desired. This method is perfect for our fast-paced, hectic lifestyle. So, is there a “need to knead anymore?”

Recently, I had to wonder why I decided to use the traditional “Kneading Method” when I had “a million other things to do.”  Whatever the reason, I pulled out the flour, yeast, and salt and got to work.  However, when I turned the slightly sticky dough out onto the floured board and put my hands onto the dough, gently pushing, folding, and turning it, I began to understand.  I no longer felt rushed. I  felt calm and peaceful.  I looked out the window and saw the beauty of the leafless trees silhouetted against the cloudy sky.  It looked like it might snow.

My mind was transported back about forty-five years to the days when I made all my family’s bread.  I thought of Christmases when our children were young, trips to the mountains to cut the Christmas tree, and then decorating it on December fifteenth, Daddy’s birthday.  The excitement continued to mount in our household over the next ten days with our baking cookies and Gramma making her famous eggnog.  I remembered with gratitude the neighbours who helped us assemble three little bikes after the “tiny angels” fell asleep on Christmas Eve.

Without consciously thinking about what I was doing, the dough became smooth and elastic.  The kneading was complete.  Yes, this is exactly what I “needed” to do – slow down, and appreciate the beauty of a winter’s day, the excitement of Christmas through a child’s eye, and the generosity of neighbours.  I still have the “need to knead.”